Martin Chuzzlewit, Paperback Book
3.5 out of 5 (5 ratings)


Charles Dickens's powerful black comedy of of hypocrisy and greed, Martin Chuzzlewit is edited with an introduction and notes by Patricia Ingham in Penguin Classics.The greed of his family has led wealthy old Martin Chuzzlewit to become suspicious and misanthropic, leaving his grandson and namesake to make his own way in the world. And so young Martin sets out from the Wiltshire home of his supposed champion, the scheming architect Pecksniff, to seek his fortune in America.

In depicting Martin's journey - an experience that teaches him to question his inherited self-interest and egotism - Dickens created many vividly realized figures: the brutish lout Jonas Chuzzlewit, plotting to gain the family fortune; Martin's optimistic manservant, Mark Tapley; gentle Tom Pinch; and the drunken and corrupt private nurse, Mrs Gamp.

With its portrayal of greed, blackmail and murder, and its searing satire on America Dickens's novel is a powerful and blackly comic story of hypocrisy and redemption.In her introduction, Patricia Ingham examines characterization, the central themes of the novel, and Dickens's depiction of America.

This edition also includes two new prefaces, Dickens's postscript written in 1868, his working papers, a note on Mrs Gamp's eccentric speech, a chronology, updated further reading, appendices and original illustrations by 'Phiz'.Charles Dickens is one of the best-loved novelists in the English language, whose 200th anniversary was celebrated in 2012.

His most famous books, including Oliver Twist, Great Expectations, A Tale of Two Cities, David Copperfield and The Pickwick Papers, have been adapted for stage and screen and read by millions.

If you enjoyed Martin Chuzzlewit, you might like Dickens's Dombey and Son, also available in Penguin Classics.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 864 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Classic fiction (pre c 1945)
  • ISBN: 9780140436143

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Showing 1 - 5 of 5 reviews.

Review by

Another great Dickens’ novel of biblical proportions. Even the pages of this edition have a scriptural feel to them - thin and vellum-like, with the added benefit of the original illustrations.And the novel is everything that I have come to expect of Dickens. Plenty of memorable characters and scenes and a plot full of unexpectedly and unbelievable coincidences. You just have to suspend your modern cynicism and go with it - when you do, it’s incredibly satisfying. Every character, no matter how insignificant, gets their just desserts at the end.This is also the novel where Dickens turns his satirical eye on the United States, since two of the characters immigrate in quest of their fortune, and are horribly disappointed. In the appendix, there is actually a postscript where Dickens attempts to make amends.So heft a copy of this 800 page tome and give it a read - you won’t be disappointed.

Review by

I tend to overdo my pleasures. Very recently, I've read Dombey and Sons, Hard Times, Our Mutual Friend, and the Mystery of Edwin Drood. So it's only to be expected that I should encounter a little Dickens fatigue. And along about page 600 of Martin Chuzzlewit, the thought kept popping into my mind, like those Interstate motel advertisements, "if this had been John Sanford's 'Prey on Greed', I would be home by now."Yes, I'd had it with ole "Sairey" Gamp, who seemed to have no purpose in Dicken's universe, except to annoy the hell out of me with her quaint dialect stylings and her bottle on the mantelpiece when she was so "dispoged". Not to mention how she precipitated a debilitating series of Robin-Williams-in-Doubtfire-drag flashbacks.And those Pecksniff hoes, Cherry and Merry? Like any time I want more of that action, there's a thousand starlet wannabe's on Youtube looking sideways at a web cam, mis-accenting their dialogue and raising their eyebrows like they all suffer from the same bizarre tic doloureux. Enuff a dat, thank you very much.I did enjoy Martin Jr. and Mark Tapley, when - to hum a bit of Paul Simon - they "walked off to look for America." Dickens riff list of New York City newspapers was genius "The Sewer, The Stabber, The Family Spy, The Private Listener, The Peeper, The Plunderer, The Keyhole Reporter, and The Rowdy Journal." Indeed, what with wire photos, colored printing, the Internet , it's nice to see that a century of technological change hasn't really spoiled the industry, eh wot?I found myself comparing Chuzzlewit to Our Mutual Friend. Both novels contained a universe of characters. In both, the ecology - the way they fed and fed on one another - was similarly complex. Both used major plot twists. But Our Mutual Friend has a much better flow (no pun about the Thames intended). And equivalent characters are much more interesting in Our Mutual Friend. Little Jenny Wren, for example, steals the show very much like Gamp does in Chuzzlewit, and has a role of equal proportion, but I think she's far more interesting and funny.Bottom line - two things - first, if you're thinking of broadening your reading of Dickens, choose Our Mutual Friend over Martin Chuzzlewit; second, Chuzzlewit doesn't have much forward motion, so focus on enjoying the eccentricities of the characters rather than expecting much from the plot.

Review by

Much to my surprise, Martin Chuzzlewit turned out to be one of my favorite Dickens books, right behind Bleak House and Great Expectations. It's funnier than most of his books and features one of Dickens' best villains, Seth Pecksniff (what a name). I have just one more Dickens novel, Our Mutual Friend, to finish and I can say I completed Dickens' oeuvre. It has taken me only ten years to do it.

Review by
Martin Chuzzlewit follows that formula that Dickens is so good at executing - our hero is basically a good person, but has some character flaws. Hero goes on a journey/experiences some serious hardship. Hero reforms and repents. And everyone lives happily ever after. I don't mind this formula and many of his stories that follow it, like Our Mutual Friend, end up being one of my favorite classics. But, in this story, our hero Martin Chuzzlewit goes on a journey to the United States and not only does he face physical hardship, but has to endure the crassness and shallow liberality of Americans. Definitely there was an agenda here describing Dickens dislike of certain American qualities. In some ways this was enlightening to see a visitor's viewpoint of America during the 1800's, but the message was too strong, and some of those quirky characters that he executes so well became a sounding board for his agenda.
Review by

It was a happy day when I, for whatever reason, elected to sample Charles Dickens. Having read A Tale of Two Cities in high school, I digressed to more popular fiction (Michener, Clavell, McMurtry, King, Grisham), as well as periods of science fiction and even non-fiction (Ambrose, McCollough for example), before making an effort to upgrade my reading list.I read some Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, Steinbeck and Hemingway with mixed success before reading Great Expectations. I liked it enough to read David Copperfield, and I was hooked. A Tale of Two Cities followed and then Oliver Twist (not my favorite), Bleak House and Nicholas Nickleby before taking on this lengthy novel.Martin Chuzzlewit takes its name not from one, but two characters in the novel, a very wealthy, old gentleman and his grandson. While there are numerous story threads involved in the work, the overarching theme involves the ultimate disposition of the elder Chuzzlewit’s substantial fortune, the characters maneuvering for a piece of it and those on the periphery. As in almost all Dickens’s work, the beauty of the novel lies in the original and classic characters created therein. Heretofore, I had heard people referred to as “pecksniffs” without any understanding of the meaning (aside from context) or the source of the reference. Mr. Pecksniff and his daughters are central characters in this novel. The story was penned shortly after Dickens returned from a tour of the United States and that country does not show well in the younger Martin’s experiences there.Having read several Dickens works prior to this one, I was aware that a period of acclimation is required before becoming comfortable with both the language and the cultural landscape, however the comfort that I eventually attained in the previous novels was more difficult to come by here. To be honest, some of the dialogue, especially that of the old nurse was virtually unintelligible.Make no mistake, at nearly 900 pages this is a real door stop, with long periods of very slow advancement. Not my favorite of the several Dickens novels I have read, but not the worst.

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